Cryptocurrency booms are often fueled by dreams of life-changing riches. In Afghanistan, buyers are instead snapping up digital coins in hopes of preserving what wealth they have -- and keeping it out of the Taliban’s reach.
In a white-walled office beside a open-air foreign exchange market, Habibullah Timori and his four employees are making trades for customers, using their Samsung phones. Chinese-made security cameras surveil. A sign on the wall says: “Kindly refrain from demanding a loan.”
The place is Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city, an oasis in the western desert about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the Iranian border. Timori said his Maihan Crypto is the largest of the country’s six crypto brokerages, four of which are located in Herat.
The Taliban’s takeover had many unfortunate consequences for the people of Afghanistan, said Alex Zerden, a former financial attache to Afghanistan for the U.S. Department of the Treasury whose firm, Capitol Peak Strategies, advises crypto companies. It’s not surprising that people are using digital assets as a way to reduce the group’s interference in their economic affairs, he said.
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